A recent decision by the Cabinet Member for Children & Young People (made on 11th April 2018) on the proposed plans for the provision of school places for 2017-2021 and beyond, was reviewed by the Children & Young People Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel, at a public meeting on the 15th May 2018.
10 councillors formally asked for the Cabinet Member’s decision to be reviewed - or Called-In. In particular they questioned the impact on families being allocated places at schools which are the furthest from their home.
Cllr Richard Samuel (Liberal Democrat, Walcot) questioned whether the plans fully considered the air quality implications of home to school travel as well as issues of congestion, time taken, and cost to families.
The Scrutiny Panel also listened to the thoughts and concerns of families and in particular the impact that this would have on children with additional needs and on the future social development for those children travelling long distances to get to school.
To assist in their deliberations, the Panel also received a range of evidence, interviewed Cllr Paul May, (Conservative, Publow & Whitchurch), the Cabinet Member for Children & Young People, and a representative, Councillor Paul Crossley (Liberal Democrat, Southdown), on behalf of those Councillors who signed the request to review the decision for the call-in request.
The panel heard from the Cabinet member that the demand for school places in Bath this year was greater than predicted and that some schools had admitted more pupils in order to ensure every new year 7 pupil in Bath could have a place at a Bath school in September. The majority of the pupils who will need to travel from South West Bath across the city to St Marks School will receive free home to school transport.
After and full and frank debate considering all of the evidence, the Panel voted to dismiss the call-in and allow the decision to be implemented as set out.
Cllr Alison Millar (Liberal Democrat, Bathavon North, Chair of the Children & Young People Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel, , said: “The Panel noted the huge difficulties faced by some families, particularly those in the south of Bath, as a result of the pressures on secondary school places this year. It has asked to monitor the forthcoming work on next year’s school plans to avoid the same situation occurring again and to ensure that the needs of allBath and North East Somerset residents with children approaching secondary school age are addressed.”
This means that the original decision made by Cllr Paul May, Cabinet Member for Children & Young People, can take place with immediate effect.